Evaluation of site-specific methylation of the CMV promoter and its role in CHO cell productivity of a recombinant monoclonal antibody

Hussain Dahodwala, Sophia D Amenyah, Sarah Nicoletti, Matthew Henry, Diane J Lees-Murdock, Susan T Sharfstein

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Abstract We previously demonstrated that increased monoclonal antibody productivity in dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR)-amplified CHO cells correlates with phosphorylated transcription factor-cytomegalovirus (CMV) promoter interactions. In this article, we extend the characterization to include CMV promoter methylation and its influence on NFκB and CREB1 transcription factor binding to the CMV promoter in two families of DHFR-amplified CHO cell lines. CMV promoter methylation was determined using bisulfite sequencing. To overcome Sanger-sequencing limitations due to high CG bias and multiple transgenes copies, pyrosequencing was used to determine the frequency of methylated cytosines in regions proximal to and containing the NFκB and CREB1 transcription-factor consensus binding sites. Chromatin immunoprecipitation was performed to interrogate transcription factor–DNA interactions. Antibodies to CREB1 and NFκB were used to immunoprecipitate formaldehyde-crosslinked protein-DNA fractions, followed by reverse transcription quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction to quantitate the number of copies of CMV-promoter DNA bound to the various transcription factors. The relative unmethylated fraction at the CREB1 and NFκB consensus binding sites determined by pyrosequencing was correlated with transcription factor binding as determined by chromatin immunoprecipitation. Azacytidine treatment reduced methylation in all treated samples, though not at all methylation sites, while increasing transcription. Distinct promoter methylation patterns arise upon clonal selection in different families of cell lines. In both cell line families, increased methylation was observed upon amplification. In one family, the NFκB binding-site methylation was accompanied by increased CREB1 interaction with the promoter. In the other cell line family, lower methylation frequency at the NFκB consensus binding site was accompanied by more NFκB recruitment to the promoter region.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-129
Number of pages9
JournalAntibody Therapeutics
Issue number2
Early online date6 May 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 6 May 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported in part by a grant from the US National Science Foundation [CBET-0967821].

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s).


  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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